Saturday, December 27, 2008

Making Merry or Arsenic and Embroidery Floss

I was packing up some gifts to send when an email popped into my inbox. It was forwarded mail. Forbes Most Toxic Toys list. I clicked on the link and then looked at the slideshow of photos.

Wouldn't you know it, some presents I had just wrapped were pictured there. Friendship bracelet kits contaminated with arsenic. The U.S. is set to pass laws limiting the amount of arsenic in toys to 25 ppm. The amount in the friendship bracelets I was planning to give my own children and the children of friends: 630 ppm.

Here is one of the kits photographed on our tree, already adorned with its lead pvc light strings.

Let me say that this put a chill on my already weak enthusiasm for buying toys.

I am so glad that I am rotten at getting to the post office and was able to recall these toys myself and did not have to call my friends to say, hey, howzit going, I've been poisoning your kid.

The kids and I had a great time making presents this year. But you do have to wonder. If embroidery floss and a piece of foam are not safe, is anything? I am not generally paranoid about toxins. Everything is toxic in large enough quantities and everything is not toxic in small enough quantities.

But this made me think about everything we were making.

Evelyn made this snow globe and Clementine made the ducky out of Sculpey. Mmm. Baked plastic. That is sure to be good for you.

Greta picked out the beads for this spoon and I helped her wrap it. This is the only one of these gifts that truly worries me. Is that wire pure copper? What else might be in it and in the beads that I wouldn't like my father-in-law to be stirring into his coffee? A hot, acidic, liquid bath is just the ticket to get the toxins off the spoon and into him.

The aprons I made for my niece and nephew are probably not any more toxic...than, say, embroidery floss.

Freezer paper stencils are just as fun and satisfying as promised. But what about ironing that plastic-coated freezer paper? And what about the paint? And the glue for the rhinestones and jewels?

Clementine's fairy for her cousin Grace:

Evelyn's present for her cousin Amelia.
Evelyn's drawing about to be made into a stencil.
The stencil ready to be painted.
Painted and drying.
The finished shirt with two more stencils: a cave of jewels on the left shoulder and a bejeweled sword on the right arm.

Our honey. Well, we can't say it is organic because our neighbors might use pesticides. Still, I'm thinking this is a pretty safe gift. Except for the botulism spores.

The girls' gift to the squirrels and birds is among our safest gifts, I'm guessing. Peanut butter and bird seed on a pinecone.
The squirrels seemed to enjoy the gift.

And the girls enjoyed the squirrels.

Next year it will be peanut butter, birdseed and pinecones for everyone.


gina said...

lol. sounds like a plan.

Those gifts sure are lovely though...

Stefaneener said...


I can't wait to see you all again. Now, that will be an ongoing gift.

patricia said...

But doesn't Andrew Weil have something to say about the carcinogens in peanuts?

I say it's okay to poison each other, so long as we do it joyfully. :-)

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the time I sent you the chocolate that was recalled for lead . . .

Your handmade things are beautiful. I know, next year you can have the kids make natural dyes from plant material and dig some clay from a creek bed. Just don't send peanuts -- we're allergic.